Wilgam Vehera Viharaya | Ancient Somawathi Viharaya of Giri Abhaya?

Not to be confused with Velgam Vehera Viharaya

Wilgam Vehera Viharaya
Wilgam Vehera (Sinhala: විල්ගම් වෙහෙර විහාරය) is a Buddhist temple situated a few kilometres north of Seruvila Raja Maha Viharaya near Thoppur town in Trincomalee District, Sri Lanka.

Wilgam is the ancient name of the present Seruvila (or Seruwavila) in Trincomalee District (Nicholas, 1963). Although there is no certain archaeological evidence, it is suggested that the Stupa on present Wilgam Vehera Vihara premises is probably the ancient Somawathi Stupa which is believed to have been erected by Prince Giri Abhaya, the brother-in-law of Prince Kavantissa of Ruhuna (205-161 B.C.). The chronicle Dhatuvamsa states that Somawathi Vihara was situated in the same region close to the Mangala Maha-Cetiya (probably the present Seruvila Raja Maha Viharaya) built by Kavantissa (Ranawella, 2005). However, as per popular belief, the Stupa at present Somawathi Raja Maha Viharaya in Polonnaruwa is the ancient Somawathi Stupa established by Prince Giri Abhaya, but some inscriptions discovered from this temple premises have proved beyond doubt that it was not the Vihara built by Giri Abhaya but that it is a Vihara named Pajina Nakela Araba built by a Prince named Nakula, son of King Mahadatika Mahanaga [(9-21 A.D.) Nicholas, 1963; Paranavitana, 1983; Ranawella, 2005].

1) Nicholas, C. W., 1963. Historical topography of ancient and medieval Ceylon. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, New Series (Vol VI). Special Number: Colombo. Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch). pp.42, 194.
2) Paranavitana, S., 1983. Inscriptions of Ceylon: Vol. II. Part I. Department of Archaeology, Sri Lanka. pp.39-40.
3) Ranawella, S., 2005. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume V, Part III. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 955-91-59-57-7. p.85.

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This page was last updated on 27 June 2023

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